Portsmouth challenged to take off after rocket

Alex Duffus. Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-172)
Alex Duffus. Picture: Neil Marshall (171124-172)
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Jim Pearce is hoping Portsmouth’s defeat to Old Tiffinians will prove to be a wake-up call.

The director of rugby has challenged his troops to right the wrongs of last weekend’s loss when they host Weybridge Vandals at Rugby Camp on Saturday (2.30pm).

Portsmouth are unbeaten on home turf this season and need to get back on track quickly to keep their London three south west ambitions alive.

‘Some things didn’t quite go right in our last game,’ said Pearce.

‘Individual and collective errors condemned us to defeat.

‘All credit to Tiffinians who admitted they upped their game.

‘They deserved to win. They played the better rugby on the day.

‘We must look to address that because it is not something we can afford to repeat.

‘Sometimes a blip like this can provide the players with the rocket they need.

‘If we win this game then we will be back on course to reach the target we have set ourselves.’

Portsmouth have made changes in a bid to freshen things up.

Rob Gicquel is back in the second row after missing last week through work commitments.

That means Ian French will revert back to prop forward.

In the back-row, Gareth Fitzpatrick replaces Will Brock who has picked up a foot injury.

Fitzpatrick’s hard-tackling game is expected to enable Portsmouth to get on the front foot.

Alex Duffus is back in the scrum-half berth where he can direct the work of the forwards.

Curtis Barnes and Sully Caucau are set to switch positions with the former moving to the wing and the latter into the centre.

Portsmouth know this is the type of game they need to be winning if they are to keep the pressure on the top two in the table.

But after being relegated last term, Pearce insists the priority remains consolidation.

‘Promotion is not something we have spoken a lot about,’ he added.

‘We are more interested in the performances and playing with smiles on our faces.

‘Our aim is to get the players to go out, express themselves and enjoy their rugby.

‘If we stick to our game plan our style can see us dictate the game. And we do that then we should return to winning ways.’

Portsmouth face a busy time between now and Christmas with both league and cup games.

In the RFU Intermediate Cup they face Warlingham at Rugby Camp.

Three days before Christmas they are scheduled to host their Hampshire Bowl semi-final against Millbrook.

Portsmouth: Davies, Barnes C, Caucau, Richards, Whitehouse, Farnes, Duffus A, French, Hoolihan, Wilkie, Leggott, Giquel, Fitzpatrick, Fookes, Bowen. Replacements: Parks, Cracknell,